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September 26, 2008

Muslim Student Association hosts Ramadan Dinner to great success

Ramadan- the ninth lunar month- has tremendous significance for Muslims across the world, as they regard it as the month when the Prophet Mohammed first received the revelation of the Quran, the Muslim sacred text. To celebrate Ramadan this year, the ULM Muslim Student Association hosted a “Ramadan Dinner” Wednesday, Sept. 10.

Approximately 70 people attended the event, including students, faculty, and families from the Monroe community. Visitors were able to talk with MSA members, ask questions and join them for dinner, which was sponsored by Muslim students, their families and community members. It included American foods as well as foods from different countries around the world. Guests also enjoyed the picture presentation, “Ramadan around the World,” as well as a display table, which had free items and books from different countries.

Every year during the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast by abstaining from all food and drink from sunrise to sunset. While the fast is beneficial to health, it is regarded principally as a method of spiritual self-purification. It is viewed that by cutting oneself off from worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person gains true sympathy with those who go hungry, as well as growth in his or her spiritual life.

In addition, Muslims strengthen their faith during Ramadan by reciting and reflecting on the Quran, charity and doing good deeds. These practices bring about the overall spiritual fulfillment, which guides Muslims in their lives throughout the year.

Dr. Mahmoud Sheikh-Khalil, a physician and also the head of the Islamic Center of Monroe, started the event with the Athan, the call of the prayer. Muslims at the event proceeded to break their fast with traditional dates, and then followed Khalil in the prayer. The guests watched the prayer, and addressed their questions to MSA students and faculty members during the dinner.

After dinner, Khalil spoke about Ramadan. “Ramadan is a special occasion around the world because it brings us closer to God. Here in America, a lot of times we forget that many people around the world can’t find any food or clean water. Ramadan reminds us of those who go without food, their feelings and the joy of having food, and it gives us a chance to relieve them by giving them charity.”

The MSA would like to thank the various faculty members who attended the event.

Dr. Robert Hanser, of the ULM Department of Criminal Justice, said, "It was an honor to attend this event. I learned a great deal and also made several friends throughout the course of the evening. I am very grateful for the hospitality that was extended to everyone who attended. I would especially like to thank the Muslim Student Association for their hard work and generosity."

Dr. Lynn Clark, instructor in the ULM Department of Curriculum and Instruction, said, "The event opened a window into a world that for many of us had been clouded with misconceptions and misinformation. We should have more events like this where faculty and students can learn together about the world around us.”

Clark utilizes creative, active learning techniques and encouraged her students to come to the event to finish their research project for her Multiculture Education class. Chelsy Smith, one of Clark’s students majoring in elementary education, added, "The Ramadan Dinner given by the Muslim Student Association was a very interesting experience. We had a great time and learned a lot about the Muslim culture. I have a completely different outlook on the Muslim religion and traditions."

Dalia Abdelhalim, president of the MSA, said, “The MSA is growing each year with both Muslim and non-Muslim members. We are very fortunate to have dedicated students who seek knowledge. I would like to thank everyone who sponsored this event, including the Monroe Muslim community and MSA members. I would also like to thank those who participated in this event.” Abdelhalim is a third year pharmacy student and the president of ULM’s Louisiana Student Pharmacists Alliance.

The ULM Muslim Student Association is an organization whose purpose is introducing Islam, its history, and values to all students. In addition, the MSA promotes friendly relations with other religious groups present on campus. All students interested in joining the organization or asking questions about the Muslim culture should email:

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